Why your agency may not be your best solution for your digital strategy alignment

How did you select your digital agency? Did you need a Facebook page or a microsite or perhaps some banners ads and the creative agency said they can do that so it was easier to just get them to do it rather than finding another agency? Or perhaps your creative agency put forward an online idea and so it was natural that they would implement it? Or was it your media agency who convinced you that they were best to plan and buy your online media and so it was natural that they would also provide that online content?

Now it is a year or so later and you are finding that more and more of your budget is being spent online. You have social media and microsites and  Facebook pages and the relationship works well, after all it is easy and convenient to manage and that is one less agency to manage.

Meanwhile your corporate affairs people have engaged a public relations firm that specialises in reputation management and is managing the social networking with a Twitter account, a blogger influencing strategy and a Facebook page.

Meanwhile the sales promotion agency has been building microsites for competition redemptions for your various brands and has been collecting customer data in the various databases behind each microsite.

When you look across the various activities and add up the cost it is now in the millions of dollars when it started out at less than the cost of a television commercial. So the question is “Are you getting good value for money?” It is certainly a question I get asked by many marketers and more often by their procurement people.

The answer depends.

While it is true that great ideas can come from anywhere, there are fundamental differences between traditional advertising production approaches and digital:

  1. Digital and especially interactive is better suited to an on-going engagement implementation rather than the traditional campaign approach.
  2. Whereas traditional media production is usually consumable (create, use and discard) online production should be building assets for on-going use.
  3. Even the content that is created for online use such as text, images, video, animation, music and audio can be managed and repurposed.
  4. Applications such as e-commerce and database creation and management require a whole of business approach including finance, operations etc, beyond the scope of advertising.
  5. The digital category is becoming more and more diversified with increasing numbers of suppliers working with increasing numbers of stakeholders – social, search, content management, analytics and reporting, customer data etc.

The fact is that an agency simply recruiting IT project management skills and programming skills is not enough. The digital marketing strategy needs to be aligned to the organisational IT strategy. Fragmenting this across multiple suppliers makes that alignment even more difficult to achieve.

Accenture found in their research paper “CMO – CIO Alignment Imperative” that companies who created an impenetrable alliance between marketing and IT are able to achieve unparalleled customer loyalty and advocacy.

So who is best to manage your online and digital strategy and production?

What are your thoughts?






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About Darren Woolley

Darren is considered a thought leader on all aspects of marketing management. A Problem Solver, Negotiator, Founder & Global CEO of TrinityP3 - Marketing Management Consultants, founding member of the Marketing FIRST Forum and Author. He is also a Past-Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute, Ex-Medical Scientist and Ex-Creative Director. And in his spare time he sleeps. Darren's Bio Here Email: darren@trinityp3.com
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8 Responses to Why your agency may not be your best solution for your digital strategy alignment

  1. Followed that link says:

    fantastic, when you attempt to register @ accenture to review the linked study "the page you requested can't be found…."

  2. Fiona F says:

    Well written. I've sat on both sides of the fence (agency & strategic marketing consultant) and see the benefits of each. One advantage of the agency is they usually have the power of creativity and execution behind them (something that is difficult for a lone consultant/CMO to achieve). In my opinion, an ideal is when the CMO (or acting CMO) is the mandatory point person between the various corporate divisions and the various agencies.

    • TrinityP3 says:

      A fair point Fiona, if the CMO has the expertise and confidence in developing and managing the digital strategy. Often the fragmentation and complexity in this space outside the organisation is replicated within the organisation with silos of the "various corporate divisions and the various agencies" you referred. The importance is developing alignment to a strategy across all of these stakeholders and to have the resources to manage and implement this alignment.

  3. mktgbytes says:

    Darren your statement that "digital marketing strategy needs to be aligned to the organisational IT strategy" is spot on for one very good reason: data.

    Digital marketing drives data collection via web, video, social, search, mobile, gaming and email (to name a few)…whilst the corporate IT infrastructure needs to be data-friendly in terms of storage, measurement, analytics and reporting.

    This is the 'sweet spot' for marketing and IT teams. It also highlights one of the most challenging areas for CMOs today, that is to develop a closer working relationship with the CIO. If they don't collaborate more, all the fancy Facebook campaigns, mobile apps, and micro-sites will deliver you is a disjointed view of your customers.

    • TrinityP3 says:

      This is so true Tim. From my experience, engaging IT in the digital supplier selection process completely transforms the process. Suddenly the digital agencies have the opportunity to engage beyond communications strategy and concepts to demonstrate their technology capabilities too. Often the process and then appointment becomes the starting point of a closer working relationship between the two – marketing and IT – the CMO and the CIO. Tim, where have you seen this relationship working really well?

      • Tim Nicholas says:

        Unfortunately not seen this working as well as it can/should. From my POV it appears CBA has their data act together. And probably Toyota has too. And finally I'd hope there's a savvy retailer who gets it – but sadly I can't name one.

        • TrinityP3 says:

          It is sad but true Tim. The problem seems to be obtaining data in the first place, then having it in a form that allows access and then the right type of analysis to derive insights. With all of the loyalty programs in the market place it is sad that more is not being done other than giving away margin as rewards or commercialising the database by selling it to others who recognise the value but do not have the data themselves.

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